Tai chi and Qi gong

Tai chi

A gentle way to fight stress

If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider Tai chi (TIE-CHEE). Originally developed for self-defense, Tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, Tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.

What is Tai chi?

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.

Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.

Tai chi has many different styles. Each style may subtly emphasize various Tai chi principles and methods. There are variations within each style. Some styles may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of Tai chi.

Tai chi is different from yoga, another type of meditative movement. Yoga includes various physical postures and breathing techniques, along with meditation.

Who can do Tai chi?

Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because Tai chi is a low-impact exercise, it may be especially suitable if you’re an older adult who otherwise may not exercise.

Why try Tai chi?

When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi may include:

• Decreased stress, anxiety and depression
• Improved mood
• Improved aerobic capacity
• Increased energy and stamina
• Improved flexibility, balance and agility
• Improved muscle strength and definition

More research is needed to determine the health benefits of Tai chi. Some evidence indicates that Tai chi may also help:

• Enhance quality of sleep
• Enhance the immune system
• Help lower blood pressure
• Improve joint pain
• Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
• Improve overall well-being
• Reduce the risk of falls in older adults

What is Qigong?

Qigong, which is sometimes spelled Chi-Kung (and pronounced chee-gung), is the study and practice of cultivating vital life-force through various techniques, including:

• Breathing techniques
• Postures
• Meditations
• Guided imagery

Qi means “breath” or “air” and is considered the “vital-life-force” or “life-force energy.” Qigong practitioners believe that this vital-life-force penetrates and permeates everything in the universe. It corresponds to the Greek “pneuma,” the Sanskrit “prana,” or the Western medical conception of “bioelectricity. Gong means “work” or “effort” and is the commitment an individual puts into any practice or skill that requires time, patience, and repetition to perfect.

What do Qigong healers do?

Qigong healers practice the same foundational techniques as everyone else, but they have practiced so much that they understand every move, breath, and thought behind the techniques. Through effort (“gong”), Qigong healers have gained a deeper understanding of the exercises and aimed this effort toward learning how to control Qi.

Qigong practitioners believe that those who have the ability to control Qi can emit Qi to heal others. This can be done in many ways depending on the healer:

  • Qigong massage: Placing hands on the receiver through massage, acupressure, or touch.
  • Tool manipulation: Using a pointed object, acupuncture needle, precious metals, or stones (silver, gold, brass, jade, etc.) to manipulate various areas of the body.
  • Item empowerment: Energizing precious metals or stones, water (for washing or drinking), teas, and herbal formulas to enhance their own healing properties.
  • Qi emission: placing hands several inches above the body and emitting Qi to remove negative influences and supplement deficiencies.
  • Distance healing: focusing on an individual many miles away and emitting energy with the intention of correcting his or her imbalances. Some see this as similar to very powerful prayer.

How might Qigong benefit your health and wellbeing?

All living organisms give off a bioelectric field. It is believed that a Qigong healer can detect these fields, as well as their imbalances. The goal of Qigong is to correct the imbalances that have accumulated throughout a person’s lifetime. Imbalances occur from deep-seated emotions (stress, anger, anxiety, depression, grief, etc.), trauma or injury, improper diet, excessive sexual activity, lack of exercise, etc. Imbalances may also be acquired from our parents (both constitutional and emotional).

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